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Monday, July 30, 2018

"Spiritual Gifts" (Thomas R. Schreiner)

TITLE: Spiritual Gifts: What They Are and Why They Matter
AUTHOR: Thomas R. Schreiner
PUBLISHER: Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing, 2018, (192 pages).

Spiritual gifts are important for us, individually as well as for the  Church. While there are different interpretations of what they are and how they are used, the general agreement is that they are from God and are used for the edification of the body of Christ. Unfortunately, many churches and believers have unwittingly allowed their differences and interpretations get in the way of seeing the bigger picture of what spiritual gifts are essentially about. What are the essential and non-essential aspects of spiritual gifts? How do we disagree without tearing our communities apart? In this book, author Thomas Schreiner deals with one of the most contentious gifts in the history of the Church: What about the gifts of apostle, prophets, and tongues? Have they ceased? Schreiner argues from a "nuanced cessationism" perspective. Healing and miracles still exist but are increasingly rare because all we need are in the revealed Scriptures already. More importantly, he wants us to focus more on the "nuancing" rather than the "ceasing." For once we understand the nuances, we will understand why he is arguing for the cessation perspective.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

"Spirit-Led Heart" (Suzanne Eller)

TITLE: The Spirit-Led Heart: Living a Life of Love and Faith without Borders
AUTHOR: Suzanne Eller
PUBLISHER: Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2018, (208 pages).

What does it take to have a heart that is Spirit-led instead of self-led? In a world where Christianity is increasingly seen with disdain, and even Christians seem to feel God is far away from them, we need guidance from time to time regarding things of faith. Jesus has promised us the Holy Spirit coming to us. Even when we feel God is far away from us, we cannot let feelings dictate reality. Just like the presence of the sun. Just because we are in a dark room does not mean the sun is not out there. We need guidance to sense the presence of God in more ways than one. This book is one resource to help us do just that. In addressing each emotion that arises out of fear, weakness, and a sense of insecurity, Eller helps put things in perspective to help us recognize that God is Sovereign and He is in control. We need to trust His leading. Spurred by the prayer of her friend, Jennifer Dukes Lee, she feels a sense of relief and is released to trust God more. From uncertainty and self-doubt, she seeks out faith in God via a promise from God. Instead of relying on our own power, we learn that the Spirit-led heart is empowered by God for the greater good and purpose. Our lives are not defined by opinions or mass appeal but by truth alone. She shows us the lies that we often fall prey into and replaces them with truth; with direction; and with boldness. I like the way she describes Spirit-led direction.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

"Best Bible Books: NT Resources" (John Glynn)

TITLE: Best Bible Books: New Testament Resources
AUTHOR: John Glynn
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Academic, 2018, (336 pages).

We are blessed with a rich collection of biblical resources. Not only are there many reliable translations of the Bible in different languages, there are also many reputable commentaries, atlases, historical documents, ancient languages helps, and all kinds of resources for all levels of learning. With all the information available, there is another problem. How do we choose? How do we differentiate the good and the not so good; the different theological perspectives; and the many that have been published but unknown to large segments of the public. What about levels for beginners to advanced; Bible study guides to scholarly references; preaching helps and pastoral research? Amid the clutter of materials, many churches and leaders need to budget for the most appropriate set of materials at the right price. Even if we have the budget to buy complete sets of Bible materials, we still need a catalog or some guides to help us understand the resources we have and do not have. Enter this reference book that sheds light on all of the above. This thick volume contains many useful annotated references to the best Bible resources available now for all levels, across different technical difficulty. There is even a price indication! Now in its 11th edition, this volume has gotten so huge that it is dedicated to just New Testament resources. A separate volume is being prepared for the Old Testament. Some of the features include:

Friday, July 6, 2018

"Developing Emotionally Mature Leaders" (Aubrey Malphurs)

TITLE: Developing Emotionally Mature Leaders: How Emotional Intelligence Can Help Transform Your Ministry
AUTHOR: Aubrey Malphurs
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2018, (240 pages).

Our emotions are critically important for effective ministry and mature leadership. Learning to manage and cultivate our emotional well-being is key in leadership. For author Aubrey Malphurs, this is also known as "emotionally mature leadership." While skills can be taught and experience can be gained, maturity is something else altogether. It is closely linked to our emotional conditions. The author puts forth six reasons why.

  1. Emotionally mature believers are also spiritually mature
  2. The Godhead is characterized by emotions
  3. An emotionally mature church is a symbol of hope to the world
  4. Emotionally intelligence is crucial for God-honouring leadership
  5. Scripture affirms the importance of emotional maturity
  6. Emotions are central to the human being and living.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

"Therefore I Have Hope" (Cameron Cole)

TITLE: Therefore I Have Hope: 12 Truths That Comfort, Sustain, and Redeem in Tragedy
AUTHOR: Cameron Cole
PUBLISHER: Chicago, IL: Crossway Publishers, 2018, (208 pages).

What is the worst thing that could happen to any one of us? Maybe it's losing a job or flunking out of school. Perhaps it is foreclosure of our house or the loss of our precious car. Far more than any of these things, it is about losing a loved one. Tragedy has a profound impact on our emotions. It could render us unable to function normally or to even go about the most basic of routines. We become another person in every way. Tragedies can affect anyone. From the joy of seeing the conversation of their son to the trauma of seeing him die, emotions can wreak havoc to our soul. How do we sustain a narrative of hope amid such trying times? Author Cameron Cole highlights truth that many of us know but refuse to see. He writes as follows:
"How could a person survive if one did not know the gospel? How could one subsist if one did not accept the sovereignty of God? How would one function if one did not know the possibility of joy in suffering? How could one move forward without the hope of heaven? There are some truths that mean nothing to a person who is gasping for existential air."

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

"Every Job a Parable" (John Van Sloten)

TITLE: Every Job a Parable: What Walmart Greeters, Nurses, and Astronauts Tell Us about God
AUTHOR: John Van Sloten
PUBLISHER: Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2017, (220 pages).

Is God really interested in our jobs? What if our jobs are powerful windows into God's work in our lives? What is the relationship between our faith and our jobs? What does it mean to work joyfully as for the Lord? Can ordinary routine jobs be as significant as those mover-and-shaker jobs? These are everyday questions that would pique the interest of anyone out there working in the marketplace.

Your work matters to God because you matter to God. Every job is a story of this relationship. Through our jobs, we exercise our vocation to demonstrate God's grace in our work and the daily things we do. Through each vocation, author and preacher John Van Sloten has discovered a unique narrative in each of them. He calls it a "kind of parable," a unique story in which God manifests Himself in our work through us. He hopes that this book will spark in each reader a "renewed vocational imagination"to trust that because God is with them in their workplace, they would reveal God's glory in everything they do. In a secular age, it would seem impossible to even talk about things of faith in the marketplace. Yet, there is a way. Opportunities abound for the discerning. He shares about how a Walmart employee named Shirley puts customers before herself, just like Christ who put others before Himself. The forensic psychologist in searching for healing recognizes the powerful role of the Holy Spirit to heal and to make people whole. For Sam Kolias, one of Canada's largest residential landlords, it is a reminder that we are all God's tenants on earth. Through the many vocations, we learn about the different ways in which our gifts and talents are put to good use, all reflecting God's creative work in us.